Bangkok, Mar 20 (EFE).- Political veteran and Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta is leading the vote count Sunday following the presidential elections in East Timor the previous day.
The polling day went ahead peacefully, although some candidates have claimed that many were unable to cast their vote because of the high influx of people and the strict closure of polling stations at 3pm local time.
According to preliminary data, Ramos-Horta has already secured over 44 percent of the votes, while current President Franciso “Lu-Olo” Guterres is in second place with 27 percent.
In third place was former Deputy Prime Minister Amanda Berta dos Santos, with almost 10 percent of the votes, followed by former Minister Mariano Sabino Lopes, with 6.2 percent, and General Lere Anan Timur, with 5.8 percent.
The final data will be published in the coming days. A runoff will be held between the top two candidates on Apr.19 if no one manages to secure at least 50 percent of the votes.
The winner will be sworn-in on May 20.
Ramos-Horta, 77, said he was confident of securing victory without the need of a runoff, according to the Lusa News Agency.
Ramos-Horta, who survived an assassination attempt in 2008, was Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2006, head of government from 2006 to 2007 and president from 2007 to 2012.
The office of president has fewer prerogatives than that of the prime minister in East Timor, although he elects the head of government and can veto laws, and these elections are seen primarily as a power struggle between the country’s major parties.
The president has a five year term, and although most powers wielded by the prime minister, the former can veto laws and appoint the head of government.
East Timor, which will celebrate 20 years of independence from Indonesia on May 20, faces high levels of poverty and a worrying youth unemployment rate, coupled with the negative economic effects of the pandemic. EFE